Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Snooze Peak (Snoqualmie Pass) 11/26/13

I was  Looking for something I haven't done that didn't involve a long drive and something on the shorter side. After some time looking over maps I honed in on Snooze Peak which is an unnamed high point to the NE of Keechelus Ridge. I wasn't sure how far I would be able to drive the Kachess Lake Road. If I had to park at the traditional snow park area I was good with walking the 3.5 miles to my jump off point. Thankfully I was able to drive all the way to the logging spur I needed. I found a nice area to park and suited up.

The initial portion of the road was a skating rink and it took some care to stay upright. The road degraded into a tangle of small trees so I headed down to the creek looking for a good crossing area of the 3 braids of Gale Creek. Complicating the situation was the brush and the thick coating of ice over anything near the water. A couple of good leaps put me on the proper side of the creek where I climbed steeply back to the road. I followed the road for a short ways until I reached a junction. I headed right for a short ways before I grew weary of the many trees guarding the road. I dived into the forest where I found mostly open travel with snow that had a healthy crust keeping me afloat most of the time. I wasn't quite sure I was on the proper track so I decided to just wing it making sure to pick the options with the most climb and easier going. Soon I recrossed the road and instead of following I kept heading up  keeping to my left. Soon the grade steepened considerably making for slow going. I contemplated adding crampons but the snow was receptive enough to stay in boots alone.  I had read Eastking's report so I was looking for the flat area that he referenced. I surmised I was just East of that area so I continued on a nice gulley going my way. A few hundred feet below the summit I dropped pack and got out my ice axe in case I had some steeper areas yet to climb. Instead I found mostly open and pleasing grade. I was able to see a couple of points, not knowing which was the right one I guessed and headed to the Western one.  Cresting the point I realized I had a few more feet of climb to reach the true summit. The summit has some peak a boo views of High Box and 3 Queens. I followed the ridge dropping to the North finding a better vantage point.

After snapping a few pictures I retraced my way back to the summit. I took some care getting back to my pack. Once reaching my pack I decided to put on crampons for the descent. I think it may have been overkill but it did give me much more confidence for the descent. I was able to follow my prints back to the creek crossing. I was a bit tense with crossing the slippery creek but my fears where completely unfounded. Thankfully I was able to negotiate the skating rink just before the car. A very nice day to be out.

approx. 4 miles 1400' of climb 3:30 Car to Car

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Dandy Mountain (Stampede Pass) 11.19.13

Dandy is the unnamed high point just to the SW of Stampede Pass. I had tried a couple times previous via Crystal Springs and was thwarted by poor conditions. I have been out of the loop for some time in regards to snow conditions so I surmised it best to pick a nice safe easy trip to assess the condiitons first hand. I recently bought a new car for my escapades in the mountains so I was eager to see how it would do. I was happy to find the road to Stampede Pass plowed with only minimal snow coverage. I drove until I was about `1.25 miles from the pass and parked. I decided that my legs needed more exercise than my anxiety about getting stuck further up the road.

I found a nice wide spot to park and suited up. I had bought some new boots that I hadn't tested in the snow so I was also curious how they would perform. In the end my feet stayed warm and dry so I was pleased. I headed up the road the short ways to the pass. I continued on the main line for about a half mile after the pass before deciding to head more direclty to the summit. The crux of this trip was the first 75' of climb which was steeper but there was enough snow and soft ground underneath to provide stable footing. Soon the grade eased off and I thought I could see a trail underneath the snow. I was not interested in continuing on the trail so I made my way to a logged area that provided a nice unbroken line heading up. The snow in the open area was much deeper so I switched to snowshoes. I plodded up the slope forgetting how much harder it is to go up hill in the Winter. I parralled a small creek hoping that once higher up I would not have to cross the ravine to continue on. Thankfully I was able to find easier ground higher up. I reached a small flat area before the last push up the rather steep slopes to the summit. Once in the trees again the snow became much more agreeable and soon I found myself on the summit with a distinct lack of views.

I didn't linger long as I retraced my steps back towards the car. Once reaching the area where I thought I had spied a trail I continued on the trail finding a much easier way of connecting to the road. I had a pleasant walk back to the car playing hopscotch with the snowplows. It was nice to finally get out and do something more interesting.

Approx 6 miles 3 hours 1900' of climb

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